Book II

The Banks of Wye by Robert Bloomfield, Edited by Tim Fulford
TEI

The Banks of Wye; A Poem. In Four Books, 1811, 1813, 1823.  [1] 

BOOK II.

CONTENTS OF BOOK II.

Henry the Fifth.Morning on the Water.Landoga.Ballad, 'The Maid of Landoga'.Tintern Abbey.Wind-Cliff.Arrival at Chepstow.Persfield.Ballad, 'Morris of Persfield'.View from Wind-Cliff.Chepstow Castle by Moonlight.

HARRY of MONMOUTH, o'er thy page,
Great chieftain of a daring age, [2] 
The stripling soldier burns to see
The spot of thy nativity;
His ardent fancy can restore
5
Thy castle's turrets, now no more; [3] 
See the tall plumes of victory wave,
And call old valour from the grave;
Twang the strong bow, and point the lance,
That pierc'd [4]  the shatter'd hosts of France, 10
10
When Europe, [5]  in the days of yore,
Shook at the rampant lion's roar.
TEN hours were all we could command;
The Boat [6]  was moor'd upon the strand;
The midnight current, by her side,
15
Was stealing down to meet the tide;
The wakeful steersman ready lay,
To rouse us at the break of day; [7] 
It camehow soon! and what a sky,
To cheer the bounding traveller's eye!
20
To make him spurn his couch of rest,
To shout upon the river's breast; [8] 
Watching by turns the rosy hue
Of early cloud, or sparkling dew.
These living joys the verse shall tell:
25
HARRY, and MONMOUTH, fare-ye-well.
On upland farm, and airy height,
Swept by the breeze, and cloth'd [9]  in light,
The reapers, early from their beds,
Perhaps were singing o'er our heads.
30
For, stranger, deem not that the eye
Could hence survey the eastern sky;
Or mark the streak'd horizon's bound,
Where first the rosy sun wheels round; [10] 
Deep in the gulf beneath were we,
35
Whence climb'd blue mists o'er rock and tree;
A mingling, undulating crowd,
That form'd the dense or fleecy cloud;
Slow from the darken'd stream upborne,
They caught the quickening gales of morn;
40
There bade their parent WYE good day,
And, ting'd with purple, sail'd away.
The MUNNO [11]  join'd us all unseen.
TROY HOUSE, and BEAUFORT'S bowers of green,
And nameless prospects, half defin'd, [12] 
45
Involv'd [13]  in mist, were left behind.
Yet as the boat still onward bore,
These [14]  ramparts of the eastern shore
Cower'd the high crest to many a sweep,
And bade us o'er each minor steep
50
Mark the bold KYMIN'S sunny brow,
That, gleaming o'er our fogs below,
Lifted amain, with giant power,
E'en to the clouds his NAVAL TOWER; [15] 
Proclaiming to the morning sky, [16] 
55
Valour, and fame, and victory.

THE air resign'd its hazy blue,
Just as LANDOGA came in view; [17] 
Delightful village! one by one,
Thy climbing dwellings caught the sun.
60
So bright the scene, the air so clear,
Young Love and Joy seem'd station'd here;
And each with floating banners cried,
'Stop, friends, you'll meet the slimy [18]  tide.'
Rude fragments, torn, disjointed, wild,
65
High on the Glo'ster shore are pil'd. [19] 
No ruin'd [20]  fane, the boast of years,
Unstain'd by time, the wreck appears; [21] 
With foaming [22]  wrath, and hideous swell,
Brought headlong down [23]  a woodland dell, 70
70
When a dark thunder-storm had spread
Its terrors round the guilty head; [24] 
When rocks, earth-bound, [25]  themselves gave way,
When crash'd the prostrate timbers lay. [26] 
O, it had been a noble sight,
75
Crouching beyond the torrent's might,
To mark th' uprooted victims bow,
The grinding masses dash below,
And hear the long deep peal the while
Burst over TINTERN'S roofless pile!
80
Then, as the sun regain'd his power,
When the last breeze from hawthorn bower,
Or Druid oak, had shook away
The rain-drops 'midst the gleaming day,
Perhaps the sigh of hope return'd,
85
And love in some chaste bosom burn'd,
And softly trill'd the stream along,
Some rustic maiden's village song.

The Maid of Landoga.
RETURN, my Llewellyn, [27]  the glory
That heroes may gain o'er the sea, 90
90
Though nations may feel
Their invincible steel,
By falsehood is tarnish'd in story;
Why tarry, Llewellyn, from me?

Thy sails, on the fathomless ocean,
95
Are swell'd by the boisterous gale:
How rests thy tir'd head
On the rude rocking bed?
While here not a leaf is in motion,
And melody reigns in the dale.
100


The mountains of Monmouth invite thee;
The WYE, O how beautiful here!
This woodbine, thine own,
Hath the cottage o'ergrown.
O what foreign shore can delight thee,
105
And where is the current so clear?


Can lands, where false pleasure assails thee,
And beauty invites thee to roam;
Can the deep orange grove
Charm with shadows of love?
110
Thy love at LANDOGA bewails thee;
Remember her truth and thy home.



ADIEU LANDOGA, scene most dear.
Farewell we bade to ETHEL'S WEIR;
Round many a point then bore away,
115
Till morn was chang'd [28]  to beauteous day:
And forward on the lowland shore,
Silent majestic ruins [29]  wore
The stamp of holiness; this strand
The steersman hail'd, and touch'd the land.
120
SUDDEN the change; at once to tread
The grass-grown mansions of the dead!
Awful to feeling, where, immense,
Rose ruin'd, gray magnificence;
The fair-wrought shaft all ivy-bound,
125
The tow'ring [30]  arch with foliage crown'd,
That trembles on its brow sublime,
Triumphant o'er the spoils of time.
Here, grasping all the eye beheld,
Thought into mingling anguish swell'd,
130
And check'd the wild excursive wing,
O'er dust or bones of priest or king;
Or raised some STRONGBOW [31]  warrior's ghost
To shout before his banner'd host.
But all was still.The chequer'd floor
135
Shall echo to the step no more;
Nor airy roof the strain prolong
Of vesper chant or choral song.

TINTERN, thy name shall hence sustain
A thousand raptures in my brain;
140
Joys, full of soul, all strength, all eye,
That cannot fade, that cannot die.


NO loitering here, lone walks to steal;
Welcome [32]  the early hunter's meal;
For time and tide, stern couple, ran
145
Their endless race, and laugh'd at man;
Deaf, had we shouted, 'turn about?' [33] 
Or, 'wait awhile [34]  till we come out;' [35] 
To humour them we check'd our pride,
And ten cheer'd hearts stow'd side by side,
150
Push'd from the shore with current strong,
And, [36]  'Hey for Chepstow,' steer'd along.


AMIDST the bright expanding day,
Solemnly [37]  deep, dark shadows lay
Of that rich foliage, tow'ring o'er
155
Where princely abbots dwelt of yore.
The mind, with instantaneous glance,
Beholds his barge of state advance.
Borne proudly down the ebbing tide,
She turns [38]  the waving boughs aside;
160
She winds with flowing pendants drest, [39] 
And as the current turns south-west,
She strikes her oars, where, full in view,
Stupendous WIND-CLIFF greets his [40]  crew.
But, Fancy, let thy day-dreams cease, [41] 
165
With fallen greatness be at peace; [42] 
Enough; for WIND-CLIFF still was found
To hail us as we doubled round.
Bold in primeval strength he stood;
His rocky brow, all shagg'd with wood,
170
O'er-look'd [43]  his base, where, doubling strong,
The inward torrent pours along;
Then ebbing turns, and turns again,
To meet the Severn and the Main, [44] 
Beneath the dark shade sweeping round
175
Of beetling PERSFIELD'S fairy ground,
By buttresses of rock upborne,
The rude APOSTLES all unshorn. [45] 
Long be the slaught'ring axe defy'd; [46] 
Long may they bear their waving pride;
180
Tree over tree, bower over bower,
In uncurb'd nature's wildest power;
Till WYE forgets to wind below,
And genial spring to bid them grow.

AND shall we e'er forget the day,
185
When our last chorus died away?
When first we hail'd, then moor'd beside
Rock-founded CHEPSTOW'S mouldering pride?
Where that strange bridge, [47]  light, trembling, high,
Strides like a spider o'er the WYE;
190
When, for the joys the morn had giv'n,
Our thankful hearts were raised to heav'n? [48] 
Never; [49]  that moment shall be dear,
While hills can charm, or sun-beams cheer.
POLLETT, [50]  farewell! Thy dashing oar
195
Shall lull us into peace no more;
But where KYRL [51]  trimm'd his infant green,
Long mayst thou with thy bark be seen;
And happy be the hearts that glide
Through such a scene, with such a guide.
200


THE verse of gravel walks that tells,
With pebble-rocks and mole-hill swells,
May strain description's bursting cheeks,
And far out-run [52]  the goal it seeks.
Not so when ev'ning's purpling hours, [53] 
205
Hied us away to PERSFIELD [54]  bowers:
Here no such danger waits the lay, [55] 
Sing on, and truth shall lead the way; [56] 
Here sight may range, and hearts may glow,
Yet shrink from the abyss below;
210
Here echoing precipices roar,
As youthful ardour shouts before:
Here a sweet paradise shall rise
At once to greet poetic eyes.
Then why does he [57]  dispel, unkind,
215
The sweet illusion from the mind,
That giant, [58]  with the goggling eye,
Who strides in mock sublimity? [59] 
Giants, identified, [60]  may frown;
Nature and taste would knock them down; [61] 
220
Blocks that usurp some noble station,
As if to curb imagination,
Which, smiling at the chissel's pow'r, [62] 
Makes better monsters every hour.
Beneath impenetrable green,
225
Down 'midst the hazel stems [63]  was seen
The turbid stream, with all that past;
The lime-white deck, the gliding mast;
Or skiff with gazers darting by,
Who rais'd their hands in extasy.
230
Impending cliffs hung overhead;
The rock-path sounded to the tread,
Where twisted roots, in many a fold,
Through moss, disputed room for hold.
The [64]  stranger who thus steals one hour
235
To trace thy walks from bower to bower,
Thy noble cliffs, thy wildwood joys,
Nature's own work that never cloys,
Who, while reflection bids him roam,
Exclaims not, 'PERSFIELD is my home,' [65]  240
240
Can ne'er, with dull unconscious eye,
Leave them behind without a sigh.
Thy tale of truth then, Sorrow, tell,
Of him who bade this home farewell;
MORRIS of PERSFIELD. Hark, the strains!
245
Hark! 'tis some Monmouth [66]  bard complains!
The deeds, the worth, he knew so well,
The force of nature bids him tell.


Morris of Persfield.
WHO was lord of yon beautiful seat;
Yon woods which are tow'ring so high?
250
Who spread the rich board for the great,
Yet listen'd to pity's soft sigh?
Who gave with a spirit so free,
And fed the distress'd at his door?
Our MORRIS of PERSFIELD was he,
255
Who dwelt in the hearts of the poor.
But who e'en of wealth shall make sure,
Since wealth to misfortune has bow'd?
Long cherish'd untainted and pure,
The stream of his charity flow'd.
260
But all his resources gave way;
O what could his feelings controul? [67] 
What shall curb, in the prosperous day,
Th' excess of a generous soul?


He bade an adieu to the town;
265
O, can I forget the sad day?
When I saw the poor widows kneel down
To bless him, to weep, and to pray.
Though sorrow was mark'd in his eye,
This trial he manfully bore;
270
Then pass'd o'er the bridge of the WYE,
To return to his PERSFIELD no more.


Yet surely [68]  another might feel;
And [69]  poverty still may [70]  be fed;
I was the one who [71]  rung out the dumb peal,
275
For to us noble MORRIS was dead.
He had not lost sight of his home,
Yon domain that so lovely appears,
When he heard it, and sunk overcome;
He could feel, and he burst into tears. [72] 
280


The lessons of prudence have charms,
And slighted, may lead to distress;
But the man whom benevolence warms, [73] 
Is an angel who lives but to bless.
If ever man merited fame,
285
If ever man's failings went free,
Forgot at the sound of his name,
Our MORRIS of PERSFIELD was he. [74] 


CLEFT from the summit, who shall say
When WIND-CLIFF'S other half gave way?
290
Or when [75]  the sea-waves [76]  roaring strong,
First drove the rock-bound tide along?
To studious leisure be resign'd,
The task that leads the wilder'd mind,
From time's first birth throughout the range
295
Of Nature's [77]  everlasting change.
Soon from his all-commanding brow,
Lay PERSFIELD's rocks and woods below.
BACK over MONMOUTH who could trace
The WYE'S fantastic mountain race?
300
Before [78]  us, sweeping far and wide,
Lay out-stretch'd Severn's ocean tide,
Through whose blue mists, all upward blown,
Broke the faint lines of heights unknown;
And still, though clouds would interpose, [79] 
305
The COTSWOLD promontories rose
In dark succession: STINCHCOMB'S [80]  brow,
With BERKELEY CASTLE [81]  crouch'd below;
And stranger spires on either hand,
From THORNBURY, on the Glo'ster strand, 310
310
With black-brow'd woods, and yellow fields,
The boundless wealth that summer yields, [82] 
Detain'd the eye, that glanced again
O'er KINGROAD anchorage to the main.
Or [83]  was the bounded view preferr'd,
315
Far, far beneath, the spreading herd
Low'd, as the cow-boy stroll'd along,
And cheerly sung his last new song.
But cow-boy, herd, and tide, and spire, [84] 
Sunk into gloom, the tinge of fire, [85] 
320
As westward roll'd the setting day,
Fled like a golden dream away.
Then CHEPSTOW'S ruin'd fortress caught
The mind's collected store of thought, [86] 
And seem'd, with mild but jealous frown,
325
To promise peace, and warn us down. [87] 
'Twas well; for he has much to boast,
Much still that tells of glories lost,
Though rolling years have form'd the sod,
Where once the bright-helm'd warrior trod
330
From tower to tower, and gaz'd [88]  around,
While all beneath him slept profound.
E'en on the walls where pac'd [89]  the brave,
High o'er his crumbling turrets wave
The rampant seedlings.Not a breath
335
Past [90]  through their leaves; when, still as death,
We stopp'd to watch the cloudsfor night
Grew splendid with encreasing [91]  light,
Till, as time loudly told the hour,
Gleam'd the broad-front of MARTEN'S TOWER, [92]  340
340
Bright silver'd by the moon.Then rose
The wild notes sacred to repose;
Then the lone owl awoke from rest,
Stretch'd his keen talons, plum'd [93]  his crest,
And, from his high embattl'd [94]  station,
345
Hooted a trembling salutation.
Rocks caught the 'halloo' from his tongue,
And PERSFIELD back the echoes flung
Triumphant o'er th' illustrious dead,
Their history lost, their glories fled.
350

[Illustration 2]


1.         END OF THE SECOND BOOK.

Notes

[1] The text of the first edition of The Banks of Wye; A Poem. In Four Books (London: Vernor, Hood & Sharpe, 1811), collated with the corrected second edition (London, B. & R. Crosby & Co., 1813) and the third edition (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Co., 1823). BACK

[2] age,] age! 1823 BACK

[3] now no more] (now no more) 1813, 1823 BACK

[4] pierc'd] pierced 1823 BACK

[5] Europe] nations 1813, 1823 BACK

[6] Boat] boat 1823 BACK

[7] day;] day: 1823 BACK

[8] breast;] breast, 1823 BACK

[9] cloth'd] clothed 1823 BACK

[10] round;] round. 1823 BACK

[11] The river Munno, or Mynnow, falls into the Wye, near Monmouth. 1813, 1823 [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[12] defin'd] defined 1823 BACK

[13] Involv'd] Involved 1823 BACK

[14] These] The 1813, 1823 BACK

[15] The Kymin Pavilion, erected in honour of the British Admirals, and their unparalleled victories [Bloomfield's note, referring to the picturesque tower built from 1794 on land owned by the Duke of Beaufort. A naval temple, commemorating Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile (Aboukir Bay) was built there in 1800. The site is detailed by Charles Heath in a Descriptive Account of the Kymin Pavilion and Beaulieu Grove, with their Various Views, also the Naval Temple (Monmouth, 1807)]. BACK

[16] sky,] sky 1823 BACK

[17] view;] view. 1823 BACK

[18] slimy] rushing 1813, 1823 BACK

[19] pil'd] piled 1823 BACK

[20] ruin'd] mouldering 1813, 1823 BACK

[21] appears;] appears: 1823 BACK

[22] foaming] pouring 1813, 1823 BACK

[23] brought headlong down] Down foaming from 1813, 1823 BACK

[24] When a dark thunder-storm had spread / Its terrors round the guilty head; ] A summer flood's resistless pow'r / Raised the grim ruin in an hour! / When that o'erwhelming tempest spread / Its terrors round the guilty head 1813, 1823 BACK

[25] When rocks, earth-bound,] When earth-bound rocks 1813, 1823 BACK

[26] lay.] lay, 1813, 1823 BACK

[27] Llewellyn,] Llewellyn! 1823 BACK

[28] chang'd] changed 1823 BACK

[29] Silent majestic ruins] Silent majestic ruins, 1813; Silent, majestic ruins, 1823 BACK

[30] tow'ring] towering 1823 BACK

[31] STRONGBOW] BLOOD-STAIN'D 1813, 1823. They shew here] is shewn here 1813, 1823 a mutilated figure, which they call the famous Earl Strongbow; but it appears from Coxe that he was buried at Gloucester. [Bloomfield's note, referring to William Coxe, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire: Illustrated with views by Sir R. C. Hoare, Bart. A New Map of the County, and other Engravings (London, 1801)]. BACK

[32] Welcome] Ours was 1813, 1823 BACK

[33] turn about?] turn about, 1813, 1823 BACK

[34] awhile] a while 1813, 1823 BACK

[35] out;] out: 1823 BACK

[36] And,] And 1813, 1823 BACK

[37] Solemnly] The solemn 1813, 1823 BACK

[38] turns] sweeps 1813, 1823 BACK

[39] drest,] drest; 1823 BACK

[40] his] her 1813, 1823 BACK

[41] cease,] cease; 1823 BACK

[42] peace;] peace. 1823 BACK

[43] O'er-look'd] O'erlook'd 1823 BACK

[44] To meet the Severn and the Main,] (To meet the Severn and the Main) 1813, 1823 BACK

[45] Twelve projecting rocks so named, fringed with foliage near the water's edge. 1823 [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[46] defy'd;] defied: 1823 BACK

[47] 'On my arrival at Chepstow,' says Mr. Coxe, 'I walked to the bridge; it was low water, and I looked down on the river ebbing between forty and fifty feet beneath: six hours after, it rose near forty feet, almost reached the floor of the bridge, and flowed upward with great rapidity. The channel in this place being narrow in proportion to the Severn, and confined between perpendicular cliffs, the great rise and fall of the river are peculiarly manifest.' [Bloomfield's note, referring to William Coxe, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire: Illustrated with views by Sir R. C. Hoare, Bart. A New Map of the County, and other Engravings (London, 1801)]. BACK

[48] heav'n] Heav'n 1823 BACK

[49] Never;] Never: 1823 BACK

[50] 1823 New section BACK

[51] KYRL] KYRLE 1813, 1823 BACK

[52] out-run] outrun 1823 BACK

[53] hours,] hours 1813, 1823 BACK

[54] PERSFIELD] PERSFIELD'S 1813, 1823 BACK

[55] lay,] lay; 1823 BACK

[56] way;] way, 1823 BACK

[57] he] HE 1813, 1823 BACK

[58] That giant] YON GIANT 1813, 1823. An immense giant of stone, who, to say the best of him, occupies a place where such personages are least wanted or wished. 1813, 1823 [Bloomfield's note] BACK

[59] mock sublimity?] mock sublimity? 1813, 1823 BACK

[60] Giants, identified,] Giants identified 1823 BACK

[61] down;] down: BACK

[62] chissel's pow'r,] chisel's power 1823 BACK

[63] Down 'midst the hazel stems] Down, 'midst the hazel stems, 1823 BACK

[64] The] THE 1823. New section BACK

[65] Exclaims not, 'PERSFIELD is my home,'] Calls not this paradise his home, 1813, 1823 BACK

[66] Monmouth] hoary 1813, 1823 BACK

[67] controul] control 1823 BACK

[68] Yet surely] 'Twas true that 1813, 1823 BACK

[69] And] That 1813, 1823 BACK

[70] may] might 1813, 1823 BACK

[71] I was the one who] Yet long we 1813, 1823 BACK

[72] He could feel, and he burst into tears.] He felt it and burst into tears. 1813, 1823 BACK

[73] warms,] warms 1823 BACK

[74] The author is equally indebted to Mr. Coxe's County History for this anecdote, as for the greater part of the notes subjoined throughout the Journal. [Bloomfield's note, referring to William Coxe, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire: Illustrated with views by Sir R. C. Hoare, Bart. A New Map of the County, and other Engravings (London, 1801)]. BACK

[75] when] when 1813, 1823 BACK

[76] sea-waves] sea-waves, 1813, 1823 BACK

[77] Nature's] nature's 1823 BACK

[78] Before] BEFORE 1813, 1823 BACK

[79] though clouds would interpose,] (though clouds would interpose,) 1813, 1823 BACK

[80] STINCHCOMB'S] STINCHCOMBE'S 1813, 1823 BACK

[81] BERKELEY CASTLE] BERKELEY-CASTLE 1813, 1823 BACK

[82] The boundless wealth that summer yields,] (The boundless wealth that summer yields,) 1813, 1823 BACK

[83] Or] OR 1823 BACK

[84] spire,] spire 1813, 1823 BACK

[85] Sunk into gloom, the tinge of fire] Sunk into gloom.The tinge of fire 1813, 1823 BACK

[86] thought,] thought; 1823 BACK

[87] And seem'd, with mild but jealous frown, / To promise peace, and warn us down.] A dark, majestic, jealous frown / Hung on his brow, and warn'd us down. 1813, 1823 BACK

[88] gaz'd] gazed 1823 BACK

[89] pac'd] paced 1823 BACK

[90] Past] Pass'd 1823 BACK

[91] encreasing] increasing 1813, 1823 BACK

[92] Henry Marten, whose signature appears on the death-warrant of Charles the First, finished his days here in prison. Marten lived to the advanced age of seventy-eight, and died by a stroke of apoplexy, which seized him while he was at dinner, in the twentieth year of his confinement. He was buried in the chancel of the parish church at Chepstow. Over his ashes was placed a stone with an inscription, which remained there until one of the succeeding vicars declaring his abhorrence that the monument of a rebel should stand so near the altar, removed the stone into the body of the church! [Bloomfield's note]. BACK

[93] plum'd] plumed 1823 BACK

[94] embattl'd] embattled 1823 BACK

Published @ RC

July 2012

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